I’ve been thinking a lot about chaos lately.

The brave people who’ve protested in Tunisia, Egypt, and eventually (hopefully) Libya, have impacted significant change for their countries. Those changes won’t come without chaos, however. There will be many days when people will be asking “When will we finally see the fruits of our labour?” or “Was all of that risk really worth this frustration?” There’s a good chance it will take months, maybe even years for things to settle into a new normal and for the real results of the change to arrive.

With change of almost any kind comes a period of chaos. Years ago, I heard David Irvine make a presentation in which he talked about the change curve. It looked a little like this:

That diagram has stuck with me for about fifteen years, and it’s served as a great source of comfort whenever I’ve made a significant change in my life. Almost every time, I get excited about new possibilities and I expect things to go smoothly and get better right away and then BAM, I’m thrown into chaos. When that happens, I remember the diagram and think “Oh yeah, I’m right on track! It’s the chaos period. I’ve just gotta persevere and get through this.”

It’s been that way in my self-employment journey in the last four months. It’s been a welcome change, and the stress in my life has gone WAY down, and I’m oh so happy, but there’s been lots of chaos as I wonder how the bills will be paid, how I’ll get the word out about the work I want to do, and how I’ll even figure out just WHAT work I need to focus on. Chaos. Just as I should have expected.

The good thing about the change curve, though, is that after you commit yourself to chaos, work through the resistance and transformation, and spend lots of time with the new ideas, things do get better. They get even better than they were before the new idea was introduced. In the end, the chaos is worth the effort.

In what ways have you experienced the change curve and (in particular) the chaos? Are you in it now? Have you worked your way through it?

My prayer for the people of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya is that they will be patient and hold on to hope during the chaos. That’s my prayer for myself, and for you as well.

Note: Credit to this site for the diagram.

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